Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bird Nests: A Holy Week Treat

My mother-in-law passed this recipe along to me, and she found it on another blog: -- the creation of a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven. If there are any other homeschoolers out there, this would be a nice blog to check out!

These fun treats are increadibly easy and redicusouly delicious. My kids (well, at least my five-year-old) were able to help me make them (my two-year-old mostly snacked on the extra chocolate chips).

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
4 cups miniature marshmallows
4 cups chrunchy chow mein noodles (found in the international foods isle)
1 package milk chocolate or malted candy eggs or jelly beans.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips; microwave until melted, 1.5 to 2 minutes. Add marshmellows to the melted mixture and heat and microwave about 30 seconds more, or until marshmellows are melted. Stir until blended; then, mix in chow mein noodles. Butter hands and shape mixture into small nests; set them on wax paper and add candy eggs. Allow them to cool and set. They will be less sticky once set.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hooray! An Award!

I intended to post this a few days ago, but I was experiencing technical difficulties. My computer was full of junk and not running so well. I have to say thanks to Ashleigh over at for this stupendous honor.


Here's the link to the award:

The Rules:
1. Display your badge with pride!
2. Brag about it! Write a post and share the link.
3. Say thanks! Display a link to the friend who nominated you.
4. Do what you do! Keep on blogging and inspiring others.

The blogs I'm passing this award along to (and I think some may have already received this award) are: always making my mouth water with every delicious post. her delightfully gourmet homemade dishes. her recent inability to post due to country hopping, she still has a wonderful blog. it takes true ambition to commit to cooking at home for 365 days. the fact that he is not a female, I would like to pass this award along to him for his wit and ability to find humor in the feudal system.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Camping Food, Part II: Three-Bean Salad

This salad has been a big hit in our house ever since we came across it in Gourmet Magazine in 2007. We recently took it with us on a camping trip, and it was a big hit!

1 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cups thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook edamame in a saucepan of boiling salted water uncovered for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cumin, stirring until fragrant and a shade darker, about 30 seconds.
Pour cumin into a large bowl, add edamame and remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes for flavors to blend.
(Note: The last time we made this salad, we skipped cooking the cumin, and it was still just a tasty.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Pizza on a Sweet Potato Crust

Savory sweet potatoes sauteed with chorizo and onions make this pizza unique and gourmet, but it's really just as easy as making any homemade pizza. My one word of caution is that you keep plenty of flour handy for working with this dough because it can be a bit sticky. I was so tickled that this pizza turned out to taste just as I hoped it would. Don't you love successful experiments? The tomato slices add a nice fresh and juicy element, which really complimented the savory flavor of the cooked sweet potatoes.

For the dough:
1 medium sweet potato, boiled and mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and handling
1 teaspoon salt
1 package highly active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, optional

For the toppings:
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
8 oz chorizo, uncased
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 medium to large tomato sliced about 1/4 inch thick
4 green onions sliced
4 cups shredded mozzarella/provolone mixed
5 tablespoons tomato based pizza sauce

For the dough:
Boil and smash one medium peeled sweet potato and set aside. In a small bowl, combine warm water, tablespoon of olive oil, teaspoon of sugar, and yeast; allow about 3 to 5 minutes to sit, or until mixture becomes foamy. Meanwhile, whisk flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and mashed sweet potato to flour and stir until well incorporated and dough forms. Turn dough out onto a clean floured surface and knead until the dough becomes elastic and rounded. When you push it down with a figure, it should bounce back. Place dough in a large bowl coast with olive oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. After dough has risen, punch down, knead into a ball, and wrap up tightly. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator about half an hour before rolling out and baking. Dough can be made a day ahead of time and kept refrigerated.
For the pizza:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Before rolling out the dough, knead in fresh herbs like rosemary, if desired. Using a floured pizza roller or rolling pin, roll out dough on a large cookie sheet or large pizza pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 425 before topping. This method prevents a soggy crust.
Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan on medium/high heat, cook chorizo and add sweet potatoes to the pan to saute. If the pan becomes too dry, add white wine as needed to deglaze. Once the sweet potatoes have tenderized, add the chopped onions and cook until they have become fork tender and translucent. Add white wine as needed; be sure to cook the wine down all the way before using the topping. Once this is complete, spoon pizza sauce on the the partially baked crust. Top with cooked chorizo and sweet potato mixture. Then, lay sliced tomatoes on top, followed by a sprinkling of green onion sliced and finally topped with cheese.
Bake for approximated 20 minutes more or until the cheese is completely melted and begins to form browned spots.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Camping Food, Part I: Caramel Guinness Brownies

In New Orleans, the St. Patty's Day festivities began this weekend, but we skipped the parade and went camping with some friends. In keeping with this week's Irish theme, I decided to make some brownies with Guinness. I found various recipes using stout beers in baking with chocolate, but I decided to adapt my own. I thought it would be nice to add some homemade caramel to the brownies to complement the coffee flavors of Guinness. Also, I thought that these brownies would most likely have a very deep chocolate flavor which would be benefited by a sweet, delicate cocoa icing. Also, if you don't want to take the extra step to make the caramel you don't necessarily have to--these brownies are perfectly decadent without that addition.

For the caramel:
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cream of tartar, and 1/2 cup of water. Cook over high heat without stirring until sugar begins to melt and edges turn golden. Swirl the pan to cover evenly, and continue cooking until the sugar turns golden amber. Wear oven mitts (sugar will be extremely hot and may splatter) while carefully pouring the heavy cream down the side of the pan, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until combined. Transfer to a medium bowl to cool.
(Note: This caramel with be very thick and chewy. For a thinner caramel, use more cream.)

For the brownies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 stick butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 oz. white chocolate
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate
11.5 oz. milk chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
12 oz Guinness extra stout, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa. In a double boiler melt butter, unsweetened chocolate, white chocolate, and semi sweet chocolate; whisk together until smooth. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. Whisk melted chocolate and Guinness into four/cocoa mixture. Then, mix in egg/sugar mixture. Stir in milk chocolate chips. Spoon half the batter into the prepare pan, being sure to get about half the chocolate chips. Dollop about 5 tablespoons of caramel on different spots on the batter in the pan, streaking the caramel so that there will be just a touch of caramel per brownie. You will only use about half of the prepared caramel (the rest would be nice with apples!). Pour the remaining brownie batter in the pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, softened

Beat all ingredients together in a small bowl and spread over warm brownies.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Oat Protein Bars

These bars are very similar to my Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Protein Bars; however, the addition of peanut butter and cinnamon add moisture and an extra flavor zing. I'm still playing with ingredients for healthy bars that will make for good running fuel. The first batch gave me plenty of energy for a five mile run. I was definitely happy with those results. Even if you're not running, I still think these bars are great for getting extra protein and Omega 3 in a tasty way!

1/2 cup textured vegetable protein, rehydrated with 1 cup water
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flax
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 12oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 inch baking pan.
In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup textured vegetable protein and 1 cup water; cook on medium heat until TVP absorbs all the water.
Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. I suggest using a stiff wooden spoon. Add TVP once it is ready. Make sure all dry ingredients are moistened. Press dough into baking pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Savory Peanut Butter Chicken Over Lo Mein

This Thai inspired dish was a delightful dinner with fresh vegetable toppings. It was a big hit with all the boys in my family, from daddy on down to my two-year-old. The sauce was thick, but if you prefer one that is thinner, chicken stock could be added.

For the sauce:
8 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sriracha chili sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons coconut milk

For the chicken:
1.5 lbs skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
black pepper
chili powder
garlic powder
ground mustard

1 8oz package lo mein noodles

wedges of lime
cilantro, chopped
green onion, sliced
carrots, thinly sliced and chopped
red onion, thinly sliced
fresh tomato, diced

In a small saucepan, heat 1 Tb vegetable oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. Cook garlic in heated oil, then add remaining sauce ingredients; mix well. Sauce will bubble and thicken. Remove from heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tb vegetable oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. Coat chicken in seasonings listed above, then sear in a hot vegetable/sesame oil mixture. Once chick in seared, pour peanut sauce over chicken. Turn chicken to ensure it is well coated.
Meanwhile, cook lo mein in a pot of boiling water.
Once lo mein is cooked, plate noodles and top with peanut butter chicken and fresh toppings.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cocoa Buttermilk Pancakes

Funny story... actually, not that funny. But, incidentally, my dog is named Cocoa Butter Milk Bulmanski. She's a little French Bulldog. A cute dog, but in the dog house today for nearly destroying one of my new rose bushes. Anyway, I decided to make a little change to my standard buttermilk pancakes this morning in order to celebrate the final chapter of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone, which we've been reading the past few weeks at breakfast time. I also added a cup of frozen raspberries to the pancakes, but my boys were not big fans of the raspberries. I guess next time I'll just omit the berries.

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in buttermilk and butter. Add all remaining ingredients; stir just until large lumps disappear.
Lightly grease griddle, and pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot griddle. Cook until edges look cooked and bubble begin to pop up on the surface; flip pancake and cook until done on both sides. Each side only takes a couple of minutes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Protein Bars

Rolled oats! Milled flax! Textured vegetable protein! Whole wheat flour! You can barely contain yourself, right??? Don't you just love the taste of flax and TVP??? Alright, in all seriousness, these bars are pretty tasty. And I have not gone over to the dark side; I very much still love baked goods that provide only one sort of benefit--mental health! I made up this recipe because next month my husband and I are running in the Crescent City Classic, so we thought it would be nice to have some homemade energy boosters. They really are quite tasty (thanks to semi sweet chocolate) and packed with protein and Omega 3. Enjoy!

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup milled flax
1/2 cup high protein TVP (textured vegetable protein), rehydrated with 1 cup of water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 package (12 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter

Grease 9x13 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a microwave safe bowl, rehydrate 1/2 cup TVP with 1 cup of water. Be sure that the bowl is covered tightly, or it will boil over. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes, then let set for 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and TVP; mix well. Lastly, add melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir contents of bowl until all dry ingredients are wet. The warmth from the TVP and butter will cause the chocolate chips to partially melt.
Press batter into baking pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pollo con Chorizo y Frijoles Negros Caliente

I served this spicy chicken mixture as tacos, but it would be nice over rice or as a quesadilla. The cilantro lime sauce added the perfect cooling effect, but with more flavor than just using sour cream.

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. chicken thighs
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 lb chorizo, casing free
1 medium onion, chopped
1/5 green bell pepper, chopped
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 chipotle peppers, diced
15.5 oz can black beans, drained
1 tsp cornstarch mix with approx. 1 tablespoon water

Poach chicken thighs in a large pot of water with spices until fully cooked, about 15minutes of cook time per pound. Remove from pot once cook and set aside until cool enough to remove skin and bones.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan begin cooking chorizo. Once the chorizo has cooked and emits grease, add chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until tender. Add a cup on stock to deglaze the pan. Add diced tomatoes and deboned chicken to pan. Stir in chipotles and drained black beans. Then stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken sauce.

Cilantro Lime Sauce:
1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoons mayo
zest and juice of 1/2 a large lime
1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Combine yogurt, mayo, zest, juice and cilantro; mix well.

Spoon chicken onto tortillas and top with shredded cheese, greens, fresh chopped onions, cilantro lime sauce and whatever else you may desire.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

This smoothie is more tart than sweet. I also use frozen fruit, as opposed to any ice; I find ice to only water down the flavor. I like to liquefy my smoothies to ensure they can be sipped easily through straws by little mouths.

2 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup blueberry pomegranate juice
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 small banana, sliced

Combine all ingredients in the blender, cover, and liquefy until smooth.

Enjoy a healthy treat!